Having broken up with her cheating boyfriend, her acting prospects disappearing rapidly down the drain and with pockets to let, Lily Pascale decides to return to her home in Devon and take a much-needed break from London. Upon arrival, she gets the shocking news that the decapitated body of a young female student has been found on the campus of the small local university. Soon Lily gets a job teaching crime fiction at the same university, and she arrives to find the whole campus in a state of absolute chaos and the students terrified and acting strangely. Gradually Lily’s sense of unease deepens as the murder is far from solved, and no one seems to be telling her the truth.
Then Fenn Baker, the attractive Victorian Fiction specialist on whom Lily is developing a crush, disappears. A student in her class makes a brief but weird appearance but disappears before Lily can get him help. His dead body turns up a day later, and a grief-stricken Lily resolves to investigate his death, the circumstances of which perturb her greatly. Little does Lily realize that her investigation will take her into the forbidden and dangerous world of drugs, raves and murder.
This is the first and greatly intriguing Lily Pascale novel by British author Scarlett Thomas. Lead character Lily Pascale combines the eccentricity and endearing qualities of Bridget Jones with the coolness and unerring detecting sense of Hercule Poirot. Smart, sassy and self-reliant, Lily is bound to win over the readers. Plenty of other side characters make it difficult for readers to solve this whodunit, in spite of the plenty of clues the author drops. The entire plot revolves around dangerous drugs like Ecstasy, with fascinating details about their manufacturing, how easy it is to create them and the science behind. Devon, with its seaside, mountains and fog, is atmospheric and described with charming details. The macabre storyline involves decapitated bodies, drugs, etc., but is highly interesting. I, for one, am looking forward to reading more such captivating books featuring this daring and dashing young female sleuth.